© Regine Datin

Art nouveau architecture

Between 1890 and 1914, some of Nancy’s more affluent residents who were also patrons of the new art nouveau movement commissioned town houses designed in the latest ‘Nancy School’ style. Some remarkable houses were built – some of them along by the railway so that they could be better admired!

Nancy and its Art Nouveau areas

The first and finest example of these art nouveau houses is the Villa Majorelle, the family house built by decorative artist and industrialist Louis Majorelle, near the Sacré Cœur church. The exterior has been fully restored (work is still going on to restore the interior). The Villa belongs to the Museum of the Nancy School.

Plans were made for a large residential area, Saurupt Park. Whole streets were designed in the art nouveau style, and the façades of the houses decorated with floral and leaf motifs. Entrepreneurs and shopkeepers fell in with the trend, and in the early twentieth century the area between the railway station and Place Stanislas was one vast building-site as banks, the chamber of commerce, department stores, small shops and chemists all commissioned art nouveau premises.

Villa Majorelle

Don’t miss the Villa Majorelle, which was awarded the French ‘Maison des Illustres’ (houses owned by famous people) label in 2012.
Designed by architect Henri Sauvage in 1901-1902, the Villa Majorelle, or Villa Jika (from the initials of Louis Majorelle’s wife Jeanne Kretz) has all the characteristic features of the Nancy School. The close collaboration between Sauvage and Majorelle resulted in a perfect blend of elegance and comfort. All the stained glass in the house is the work of Jacques Gruber, who worked with Majorelle from 1895 onwards..

Note the use of the honesty seed pod motif, a symbol of success and prosperity, on the wrought-iron work made in Majorelle’s workshop, which originally stood at the bottom of the garden.

The Villa Majorelle was extensively featured in contemporary design magazines. It represented a major break with tradition and sparked off many new ideas, which were then taken up by architects working in Nancy at the time.

Other Art Nouveau buildings

Saurupt Park 

The Saurupt Park programme was not a great success in 1900, and only six houses were completed. The houses built here after the war were designed in the art deco style, which makes this an ideal place to compare and contrast the two styles.

The city centre

Known as the business district, this stretches from Place Stanislas to the railway. In addition to the best-known art nouveau buildings, have fun spotting the traces of shop fronts built 120 years ago!

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